Dear Chairman Alexander, Ranking Member Feinstein, Chairwoman Kaptur and Ranking Member Simpson,
As diverse organizations interested in the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) program, we thank you for the significant funding for this vital program in Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019. ARPA-E plays a unique and critical role in maintaining America’s global leadership in energy technologies. As you begin drafting the Fiscal Year 2020 Energy and Water Appropriations bills, the undersigned organizations, companies and institutions urge you to enhance our competitiveness and energy security by supporting robust funding for ARPA-E in the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bill. We support funding ARPA-E at least at $400 million in Fiscal Year 2020. This is roughly $35 million higher than in Fiscal Year 2019 and would allow for one additional program solicitation to pioneer advances in a high-impact energy technology area.
ARPA-E is a highly innovative and effective program which enjoys strong bipartisan congressional support. Since its inception, ARPA-E has successfully sponsored a dynamic range of research, including technologies with potentially profound benefits for the nation’s future energy security. Modeled after the highly successful Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), ARPA-E supports “high-risk, high-reward” research which has the potential to drastically alter how we make and use energy in the future. The program utilizes a unique organizational structure and highly successful selection process to identify innovative technologies, pushes them to meet aggressive milestones and helps them to cross the valley of death so the private sector can then commercialize them.
Despite being just ten years old, ARPA-E is already fostering technological breakthroughs in energy storage, transportation fuels, and industrial efficiency. To date, 136 of more than 340 completed projects supported by ARPA-E have attracted over $2.6 billion in private sector follow-on funding, and 71 projects have gone on to form new companies. The enthusiasm for ARPA-E’s vision and quality of work is evidenced by its ability to repeatedly draw more than 2,000 entrepreneurs, state and federal government officials, state and federal agencies and large numbers of investors to its annual Energy Innovation Summit.
The importance of U.S. leadership in energy technologies to our economic and energy security makes ARPA-E a tremendous competitive advantage for our nation. Stable and sustained funding growth is necessary to ensure this successful program continues to enhance America’s ability to pioneer the energy technologies of tomorrow.